Balloons for Carter


ImageToday, as a family, we’re releasing balloons and celebrating the too short life of a sweet little boy named Carter. Carter is a 3 year old with Williams Syndrome who became an angel last week very suddenly and unexpectedly. We didn’t know Carter in our real lives. I am Facebook friends with his mom, Airelle, and we connected through a closed support group for parents and caregivers of individuals with WS.

I’ve been struggling with how to share this because it feels disingenuous to share the grief of someone I am not close to. When I joined Facebook years ago I never intended to be “friends” with people I didn’t know. It was a way of staying connected with family and friends, sharing our daily moments to defy the distance created by life or land. And it’s been wonderful for that. I just love being able to take a peek when I’m wondering what our niece and nephews are up to over in England. I love sharing my children, and cakes and what’s for dinner. I love that I get glimpses into the lives of friends from my past.

But when Norah was diagnosed with WS, social networking changed for me. A fellow local WS mom who was generously offering support by phone invited me to a closed support group on Facebook. And  2 years later I find my friends list is almost half made up of people I’ve never met. But we have a common thread and many of them feel like family. I see Norah in the faces of so many kids whose photos grace my newsfeed. When I watch videos their movements and sounds are so familiar.  

I find myself regularly surprised at the level of emotion that rises to the surface when someone in our WS community shares a heartache or a triumph. A little girl who’s been struggling to walk takes her first steps and I rejoice, get chill bumps. A little girl goes home after a very scary and complicated recovery from open heart surgery, a lump in my throat, a tear, a shudder of relief. A child is lost, sadness, nausea, fog.  I cannot fathom it. As my very wise brother-in-law says, “don’t try”.

So, I will not try to understand Airelle’s grief. But today, as a family, we give thought to her son, Carter. We each relate in our own way. Norah smiles at Carter’s picture, scribbles with some markers on a note to him, enjoys the balloons. Charlie tries to eat one. I choose a picture of Carter and Airelle together for my note because I am relating as a mom. Stu as a father.  We let our balloons go and watch them get smaller as they drift towards the clouds. We get on with our day with a whisper of sadness for Carter’s loss following us throughout. It is our luxury to get frustrated when both kids refuse to nap. To get annoyed by an achy knee. To be fed up with picking up toys and wiping hineys. It is our luxury. I wish it were Airelle’s too.



Over Easy


Norah and I have been sharing one of my favorite breakfasts this week. Buttered toast topped with an over easy egg, salt and pepper. I like to cut into the yolk and as it starts to seep out turn it over so all the stickiness is absorbed into the toast. It brings me back to my own childhood in a flash when I cut Norah’s toast and egg into little bite-sized squares. My mom did that for me and I have no clue how she got the egg to stay so neatly on the toast as she was cutting it. I’m sure it’s an art much like cooking an egg over easy. You have to get the pan hot enough that the egg doesn’t spread too thin, but too hot and the edges get crispy. You want soft with an oozy yolk. And maybe it’s just me but I hate to have any uncooked whites. 

Stu made me his favorite childhood version of this beautiful marriage of toast and yolks when we were getting to know one another. Soldiers and eggs. Buttered toast cut into strips (soldiers) and a soft boiled egg in a ceramic egg cup. Cut the top off of the egg and you can dip the soldiers into the exposed yolk. So much fun! I just made the comparison between these two breakfasts to Stu and he said “they’re similar” but his version is “classier” (can you hear the English accent?). No doubt. What presentation.

And yet I prefer the slapped on a plate version that I grew up with. I remember the first time Stu made an egg sandwich breakfast in bed for me. I took the first big bite and yolk squirted out. What? A sandwich is no place for an over easy egg! And the bed is REALLY no place for an over easy egg. Egg sandwiches are meant to be over hard, bread soft with Duke’s mayonnaise.

I like how invested I feel about my egg breakfast. It’s rooted in memories of shared breakfasts past. It’s really where my inherited love of food all began. I vividly remember those over easy eggs on toast. Their rich stickiness and how cool I felt being like mommy. Nothing was more delicious than enjoying what she enjoyed. I had studied her hands cracking and cooking the egg, cutting each bite, so nonchalant. It was just breakfast after all.